PCA, Vicksburg, St. Al hosting spring break tournament

Published 8:00 am Sunday, March 8, 2020

Rubber pellets and muddy river water might not be exactly sand and surf, but for Mississippi’s high school baseball teams desperately looking to play games it might be even better.

Seventeen teams, ranging in size from MAIS Class 2A to MHSAA Class 6A, will descend upon Vicksburg and Sports Force Parks beginning Monday for the Battle on the River spring break baseball tournament. Among those in action are Warren County teams Porter’s Chapel Academy, St. Aloysius and Vicksburg High.

A total of 23 games will be played over three days, providing rain-weary teams a chance to work out the kinks in their lineups before their region and district schedules begin next week.

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“This facility (Sports Force Parks) has really, really helped out this year. We’ve gotten to play our games and everything because it’s been here,” PCA coach Larry Allen said. “The Jucos have been here and really appreciative of Sports Force because they wouldn’t have gotten to get some games in otherwise. So the spring break tournament should help some of those teams. Some of them have probably only played three or four games.”

The tournament will have some extra importance for Porter’s Chapel (2-4). Its first game in the tournament, Tuesday at 5 p.m. against Benton Academy, is also its District 4-2A opener. It is the only game in the tournament that will not be on a 90-minute time limit.

“We were trying to get that Benton game scheduled earlier, and it just worked out where they could come down and play and we could do it then,” Allen said.

PCA will also play Clarksdale on Wednesday at 11:45 a.m.

Vicksburg will play three games — vs. Park Place Monday at 3:15 p.m.; vs. Leake Academy Tuesday at 10 a.m.; and a crosstown showdown with St. Al at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

In addition to the Vicksburg game, St. Al will play Leake Academy at 5 p.m. on Monday.
The Flashes’ schedule at the Battle on the River is a bit abbreviated because it’s only the first part of a busy week. They’ll head to the Coast on Wednesday to play in The Battle on the Beach, a huge event that features nearly 60 teams.

St. Al coach Sid Naron said it will stretch his pitching staff, but benefit the team in the long run. The Flashes (3-1) have only played four games so far, and have two District 3-4A games against Park Place on March 17 and 20.

“It’ll be crammed in there. We’ll have to have some pitching performances against some of the quality teams we’re going to see down there on the Coast especially. I’m real excited about next week and the challenges we have,” Naron said. “I’m looking forward to getting some other guys some playing time. We still have guys we want to see in different spots that we haven’t been able to get in a game yet.”

Naron added that a more relaxed week centered around baseball is good for team morale and chemistry.

“You wish by this time you had played a lot more games, but we’re excited about this spring break,” Naron said. “That’s a really good team-building week. No school, and really developing team chemistry with conference play coming up after spring break.”

Most of the other teams coming to Vicksburg this week likely feel the same way, judging by The Battle on the River’s rapid growth. It started in 2017 with eight teams at Bazinsky Field, and then doubled in size when Sports Force Parks opened last year. It is the only major spring break tournament in Central Mississippi, which makes it an ideal destination for teams from the Delta and I-20 corridor.

“I think it’s only going to get bigger, especially with this facility out here and the weather this time of the year. People know you can’t play on any other field. So there’s a lot of interest in coming to Vicksburg,” Naron said.

BATTLE ON THE RIVER SCHEDULE
All games at Sports Force Parks
MONDAY

10 a.m. – Leake Academy vs. Richland
10 a.m. – Yazoo City vs. East Rankin
11:45 a.m. – Pearl vs. Indianola Academy
11:45 a.m. – Greenville vs. Clinton Christian
1:30 p.m. – Park Place vs. Riverside
1:30 p.m. – Bayou Academy vs. Clinton Christian
3:15 p.m. – Park Place vs. Vicksburg
5 p.m. – St. Aloysius vs. Leake Academy

TUESDAY
10 a.m. – Vicksburg vs. Leake Academy
10 a.m. – Greenville vs. Bayou Academy
11:45 a.m. – Indianola Academy vs. Richland
11:45 a.m. – Leake Academy vs. Bayou Academy
1:30 p.m. – East Rankin vs. Clarksdale
1:30 p.m. – Riverside vs. Winona Christian
3:15 p.m. – Winona Christian vs. Yazoo City
3:15 p.m. – Riverside vs. Clinton Christian
5 p.m. – Porter’s Chapel vs. Benton Academy
5 p.m. – St. Aloysius vs. Vicksburg

WEDNESDAY
10 a.m. – Clarksdale vs. Richland
10 a.m. – Greenville vs. Indianola Academy
11:45 a.m. – Clarksdale vs. Porter’s Chapel
11:45 a.m. – East Rankin vs. Winona Christian
1:30 p.m. – Yazoo City vs. Indianola Academy

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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